Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Santa's Workshop

I know it’s only September, about to be October, but isn’t it time for Christmas? I’m sure the malls are getting their decorations out, so why can’t we have a little Christmas fun here on the Disney Film Project? Today’s Silly Symphony is Santa’s Workshop, a fun little film highlighting the activity at the North Pole.

This one is definitely a Silly Symphony, from the music to the activity in the short, it’s silly and all set to music. The subject is, obviously, Santa’s Workshop, and all the activity that takes place to get ready for Christmas. So that means lots of elves making toys set to music. That makes it a quick moving short made of little snapshots of all the areas of the workshop.

There is no overarching story with conflict, etc. here, but instead it’s a progression of scenes moving from the different toys being made, to shots of Santa approving toys or reading his nice/naughty list. The amazing thing about this short, though, is the level of detail.

In seemingly every shot in this short, there is an overabundance of details that make it a richer, deeper looking short than we have seen before. Whereas the Mickey shorts or earlier Silly Symphony shorts featured some sparse backgrounds and focused on the characters, the fun of Santa’s Workshop is the detail in the background.

The wide shot of the workshop starts it, but every shot is full of toys, games and more that are being made by the elves. When Santa is standing and approving the toys, you see a stack of toys all around him. Normally, this would be just neat little boxes, but this short packs in a huge pile of toys, adding more authenticity to the workshop.

The other standout thing in Santa’s Workshop is the gags. I am not a Santa historian, but this has to be one of the first times we have seen modern machinery at work in Santa’s workshop. There are hobby horses being produced on an assembly line, with gears and conveyor belts, and of course, my personal favorite – the dolls that get scared so their hair stands up and they can get a perm applied.

When Santa saddles up his sleigh and leaves, the short ends, but the good feelings don’t. This is not a perfect short, to be sure. It doesn’t engage like other Silly Symphonies have, so you’re left with a little, fluffy piece of work that doesn’t leave any indelible memories. But it does engender some happy, Christmas thoughts, and that may be enough.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. This a delightful cartoon. It would've been wonderful if audience reactions had ever been filmed for these early technicolor cartoons. Now we can compare them to more sophisticated animated films created since, I can't help but feel the impact of these cartoons has been lessened over the years. In a time when just about everything else in the cinema was black and white, it must have been something to see these spectacles Disney was making.


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